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Leafly investigation: Inside the billion-dollar race to patent cannabis

Leafly investigation: Inside the billion-dollar race to patent cannabis

David Bienenstock | December 9, 2019

“You can’t patent a plant, man.”

You may have heard that late one night while passing around a doobie—and it sure sounds right. After all, how could a capitalist enterprise be given legal domain over the DNA of a living being?

As anyone familiar with corporate agribusiness knows, however, it’s not only entirely possible to patent a plant, it’s commonplace. Patents are issued for GMO corn varieties resistant to specific pesticides. Patents cover Honeycrisp apples bred for extra sweetness. Once a plant is patented, nobody can legally grow anything that falls under that patent without acquiring the permission of the patent holder. And that typically requires a fee.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has already issued several patents for specific kinds of cannabis (most recently one for a variety of high-CBD hemp), and for more wide-ranging “utility patents,”  but so far they’ve gone unenforced and even unnoticed.

That won’t continue much longer.

https://www.leafly.com/news/industry/the-race-to-patent-cannabis-is-turning-into-a-war






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